On the Danger of Technology and Future-Tripping Conversations

On Monday afternoon, while sitting in a hotel room on the second leg of a nearly weeklong business trip, I received a phone call. I won’t go into details about whom it was from or what it was about, but suffice to say the news wasn’t good. In fact, it was the kind of call that a year ago (a month ago?) would have sent me spinning with rage. Like throw the iPhone across the room and blow it up against a wall rage. That didn’t happen this time.

What did happen, however, was that first call led to a series of 21st century communication. I called my creative partner. I called my attorney. Emails were sent about. I called back the person who told me the news in the first place. Texts flew everywhere. I called my wife. There may have been Tweets. And every one of these conversations was nothing more than a major future-trip (which I define as “tripping on the future in the present”).

This is something I desperately need to work on.

I am the king of getting some news and then having a huge number of conversations about some issue without actually speaking to the person I should talk to. I have all kinds of conversation with myself where I talk myself out of having the real conversation because I’m convinced I know what the other person is going to say.

Nine times out of 10 (really it’s probably more like 10 out of 10), I’m just making a bad situation worse. Worse than that? I’m probably making an okay situation or even a good situation bad. I get myself so worked up, so convinced I know that I’m right, and I get myself so convinced that the other person is wrong … that I forget to even talk about it. I’m so very convinced that the conversation is going to heated, accusatory and difficult that I’m certain that not having the conversation is better. It never is.

I wonder how many similar situations could have been nipped in the bud – immediately – if I had simply picked up the phone to talk it through. Not send an email. Not send a text. Not post some convoluted Tweet or status update, but Pick. Up. The. Phone. Probably all of them. I’m not suggesting that every situation would have been resolved peacefully, but I can’t even fathom how much pain, anguish and anxiety could have been avoided. All of it?

Technology is a wonderful tool, as it allows us to stay in touch so much more easily. But it has also provided crutch for us to get out of touch. Way out of touch. How many times have I returned a phone call with an email? How many times has that email gotten misconstrued? And what could have been simple is now difficult. I can’t count the number of times this has happened.

Worse yet is what happened on Monday. The spinning out of control with “what ifs” and expectations always takes me down the wrong path. What’s easier is simply talking. Simply having the conversation. Maybe I’m wrong to write “simply talking,” as it’s not always simple. At all. But it’s better than having the same conversation with the extra baggage and drama created by the future-tripping. Expectations can be a particularly heavy burden.

As for the call on Monday? It’s still not resolved. But the good news is that creative and constructive solutions have been developed to get through what really amounts to a hiccup. Without the future-tripping and expectations, we’re able to maintain perspective. And from there … only good things can result.







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